I was raised in a small town called New Hartford, IA, where my father, grandmother, and mother told me tales that were handed down from generation to generation.
Another legend was my birth. My mother told me that my face was covered by a thick layer of flesh or a caul. My father added that in past centuries it was believed to be a mark of evil or Satan. It was these stories and beliefs that shaped my life as a writer.
I wrote my first story and poem at the age of eight. Back then, I composed my short stories and poetry in composition tablets and hid them underneath my mattress. I sometimes used the legends that my father told me then changed them to fit my imagination. My first dream was to become a paperback writer.
Growing up in New Hartford was an interesting experience. Teachers and librarians knew of my need to write and encouraged it. I was often discovered by my instructors writing a story during discussions, which earned stern looks from my teachers.
My mother found my tablets when I was twelve. She was cleaning my room. I was a bit of a slob. She found a tablet sticking out of my bed. Curiosity made her to remove it, and she started to read. She had difficulty in reading my chicken scratches, so she decided that when it was time for Christmas she would purchase me a manual typewriter.
That Christmas I received it along with a couple of pencil erasers and plenty of typing paper. She said, “Now you don’t have to hide your writing underneath the mattress.”
My mother always encouraged my writing and aided me in sending out my stories and poetry to magazines. One of these magazines was the North American Review. Robley Wilson was editor back then. I called him at the North American Review’s telephone number to see if they were going to publish my story. He gave me the greatest advice a writer ever gave me. That was to make sure that I include an SASE, self-address stamped envelope, with my submissions. Robley mailed my story back using his own money with a rejection slip. It was my first response from a magazine, and it also started my other hobby of collecting rejection slips. When I moved out in 1980, I had covered all four walls of my bedroom with rejection slips.
In my senior year, at New Hartford Community School, I rewrote a short story “The Headless Ghostman” and set it in Hooterville, IA. I modeled Hooterville after New Hartford because I felt comfortable with the small town living. When I walked the streets at night, I pictured New Hartford filled with vampires and werewolves.
I published my first poem “Misunderstood” when I was thirty-one years old. When I turned forty-three, I published my first book. I rewrote The Headless Ghostman and transformed it into a novella.
Last year, I started Sells Publications and published Freaky Frights Anthology. I used a POD, print or publish on demand, publisher called Lulu, http://www.lulu.com, to publish my paperbacks. In December 2004, The Headless Ghostman entered its third edition. In June 2006, I published my seventeenth book; Bedtime Stories.
I plan to continue to live in Iowa because of the four seasons of the year, the Hearst Center, poetry readings, author signings, and because of the small town feel. Iowa talks to me as I listen, then document the stories and poetry. I fill paperbacks with words and characters that intrigue me. I have succeeded with my dream: I’m a paperback writer.